Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Michael Jackson

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

I met him once. At Uri Geller’s wedding. God knows I have got some conversational mileage, over the years, out of attending that strange occasion - but you can hardly blame me for thinking about it again now.

  My dad got invited to Uri Geller’s wedding, because they had the same publisher. They had met a few times. My dad didn’t know Uri Geller very well. But I caught a glimpse of the invitation as he was slipping it quietly over towards the bin, and I shrieked that if he did not accept that wedding invitation and take me with him, he could consider himself, henceforth, daughterless.

  And so we went. It was awfully odd. Michael Jackson was best man. But he was late, as he was doing an appearance (I think at the Oxford Union) in the morning and there was a problem with the helicopter. So the pre-wedding drinks went on FOR HOURS. This was a problem for Hello! magazine, as they didn’t have quite enough celebrities to fill up the interviewing hours. They went through Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, Nigel Mansell, Patti Boulaye and Hilary Jones the GMTV doctor. Eventually, after about two hours, they wandered over to my dad.

  “I barely know Uri Geller”, my dad explained, “but my daughter wanted to meet Michael Jackson. And I thought, since she’s over 12 now, it would probably be safe enough.”

  As the interviewer backed away, horrified, I said to my dad, “Have you ever seen Hello! magazine? I don’t think that’s what they were looking for.”

  Anyway, Michael Jackson turned up eventually, on crutches. I say “met him”, I didn’t do much more than say hi as he walked past, and ask if he had found the ceremony baffling, and he said “No it was lovely” (or something like that) and hobbled off into his helicopter and flew away.

  It is awfully sad that he died. Poor Michael Jackson. Nevertheless, hearing the news in Las Vegas… well, I’d be lying if I said the coverage was understated. Everyone on the TV is in tears. Literally everyone. Switch on the news and all you see is sobbing newscasters talking to sobbing chat show hosts, sobbing fans, sobbing local reporters and sobbing cardiologists. Medical experts sob through the possible causes of death, famiy lawyers sob about who might get custody of the children. They keep describing the man himself as “the true heart and soul of Las Vegas”. On the day the news was released, they kept showing montages of him to dirge-like music, then talking about his faith in God, his charity work, his great munificence, sobbing again, and cutting to another montage. You would think Saint Jerome had died. Or everyone’s mother.

  And, sad and shocked though I was to hear the news, after three weeks in Vegas I can’t deny that I felt a shiver of homesickness for my damp, sarcastic, cynical home town when I got a text from a friend in London saying, simply, “R. I. Paedo.”


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Reb at 9:21 am on June 30th, 2009

Emily Maitlis isn’t doing much sobbing. In fact she looks like she’s just won the lottery, having been sent out to California for a week in the sun to cover the whole schlocky blubfest for the BBC.

val at 4:10 pm on June 30th, 2009

...and the other joke is:
CPR? Not as easy as ABC…

David R at 12:45 am on July 1st, 2009

He was on crutches?

Man, that Oxford Union audience can turn really nasty if they don’t like what you’re saying.

David Young at 8:54 pm on July 1st, 2009

Don’t know whether to be proud or ashamed that when I read that Mollie Sugden had died today, my first thought was ‘Who’s going to look after Mrs Slocombe’s pussy now?’

David R at 2:52 am on July 2nd, 2009

I liked Michael Jackson, but it’s really weird hearing people saying he was the greatest entertainer of all time. There’s just something strange talking about being the “greatest” in a field that includes The Krankies.

jonathan salfi at 5:10 am on July 2nd, 2009

having played some wsop events and finding live poker so painful it was great that while i was in vegas i got to see vc at neal channings rental. i didnt realise she had her finger in so many pies until i googled the young lady.
  was deffo intoxicated a little kinda felt bad about sayin i enjoy how she butchers the odd hand at poker. im sure she ignored my dumb comment as in a game of misinformation its impossible to play every hand correct . sorry vc take care

Malc at 12:28 pm on July 2nd, 2009


LC at 12:33 pm on July 2nd, 2009

“On the day the news was released, they kept showing montages of him to dirge-like music,”

Surely they were playing MJ music with the montages? You’re not calling his output “dirge” ?

True, there is some dodgy rubbish in his back catalogue, especially the later years but a lot of it is, well… really great stuff.

davidh at 1:38 am on July 3rd, 2009

Can you expand on the notion of a Uri Geller wedding?  My initial thought was ‘did he marry his one true love - himself’ and indeed you do not mention a bride: did Uri start with the man in the mirror?

(lovely to hear another effortlessly funny comment from your dad by the way - much missed)

Dan at 2:05 am on July 3rd, 2009

Or they were just playing dirge-like music?  Like they used to play solemn music for days on Soviet tv when a leader died?

Maybe not so extreme or for as long, but I can well imagine the kind of thing.

Victoria Coren at 7:52 am on July 3rd, 2009

It was actually a renewal of vows - Uri Geller was ‘remarrying’ Hanna, his wife of many years. Very touching really. I mean - the fact that he had a new book out, and had just become best friends with Michael Jackson, and Hello! were going to cover it… those things might have affected the TIMING of the ceremony. But they did seem a genuinely very happy couple, it was nice.

  Nb. His car is covered in spoons.

Graham W at 5:50 pm on July 3rd, 2009

I heard that Gary Glitter has put in a world record bid for Michael Jackson’s computer…Did they have to use plastic cutlery at Uri Geller’s wedding?

Roger at 12:22 pm on July 4th, 2009

Hey VC,

Have you entered your name online to be one of the lucky 17,000 members of the public to be chosen to be able to attend MJ’s funeral. I am beginning to wonder if Hello will be there, i..e before and after type (naturallly tastefully done) photos?!

Anonymous Stalker at 6:26 am on July 5th, 2009

Hi Vicky, what awful luck in the Main Event. Hope you’re cleaning up in the cash games.

Victoria Coren

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